This book is pretty damn good. If you liked The Help, you'll love Fried Green Tomatoes.
When I was in grade 11 I had a phenomenal English teacher. I only had her for the first few months of the class before she went on maternity leave, and I can't remember her name, but she was the kind of person who loved her job. She loved books, she loved reading, and she wanted her students to share that passion. A book lover myself, this was like heaven for me. I looked forward to class every day. And yet, when we were assigned our first novel study of the year and were told to read the first hundred pages over a long weekend, I put it off as long as possible. In my defense I was reading several other books at the time, but still. Looking back I don't know why I procrastinated so much. But when I did eventually start reading, 100 pages weren't enough. I devoured the book as fast as humanly possible, and I've read it many times since then.
This is a book of many layers. The main character (though that title is not entirely accurate, since there are many main characters) is an empty-nester housewife going through a mid-life crisis. She has terrible self-esteem and feels like she's lost her purpose. While visiting her mother-in-law at a nursing home, she finds herself drawn into conversation with another elderly woman, who tells her amazing stories about growing up in post-depression Alabama.
The novel jumps back and forth between the present (which was the 80s at the time) and the past, following both the housewife's journey to self-acceptance and the multitude of characters from small-town Alabama in the 1930s. This book has everything. Gripping plotlines, unforgettable characters, racial and social commentary... it's the kind of book I can't believe everyone hasn't read. It's worth your while a hundred times over. Read it. Read it now.